I went to a Purple Emperor Wood in another county and I saw four, chasing each other high up among the boughs.
It should have made me happy, but it didn't.
I went out into the garden when I got home and I sat down and I asked him why?
And the garden smiled, and showed me a flower.
On the flower was a beetle, a type of Soldier Beetle quietly nectaring away, peaceful and serene in the middle of the bloom.
It was one I hadn't seen before. I worked out who he was and added him to my garden list. It made me feel happy to think that he is new to the garden, that he has chosen to come and make his home here, where all wild things are welcome.
Then the garden showed me a perfect small white butterfly, resting for a moment on a leaf.
I have been trying to photograph this small white butterfly for weeks, but the photograph just wouldn't come.
Next, he showed me the way the hollyhocks had come into bloom that morning while I had been away.
And I looked and saw the swing beside them, and I remembered how our boys used to love it, the hours they spent swinging on it beneath the apple tree. How we used to help them up onto it when they were too little to reach it by themselves. And in my mind's eye I relived a memory long-forgotten and saw again the way they hooked one knee up on to the bench beneath the swing and levered themselves up with an arm hooked over the swing and around the rope, impatient with assistance as they grew older and became more determined to attain the independence that needed reaching for. And I smiled at the memory and considered how time has passed in this place where I tend to think few years have moved.
Then the garden showed me how eight Oak Sawfly children are nibbling through a fresh, young oak leaf.
And I remembered finding the acorn and planting it in the Good Brown Earth in a pot last winter, and saying a blessing over it and labelling the pot acorn sleeping, please do not tip out his soil. And I remembered too the smile that it gave me when I saw the first leaves breaking the surface this spring.
Then the garden showed me two more soldier beetles who had found each other among the blooms in the wildflower turf and were enjoying what L would call when he was little a lovely mate.
And I remembered M giving me the turf for my birthday this Spring and how it was the best present ever.
Then the garden showed me how the corn marigolds that also grow there look close up.
And the way the light shines through the poppies and makes them look like crepe paper.
And I remembered how that area of the garden was an overgrown tangle of stalks last year and how I agonised about what the right thing was to do for it for months and months. I remembered the many conversations we had about it, the garden and I, tossing ideas back and forth, starting on false starts and retracing my steps. Fundamental to these conversations was the need to care for all the small wild things that are so often over-looked. And I thought: how rich and colourful it is now, how much shelter there is and food sources and places to breed and raise new life and sleep the winter through safely. And how much I enjoy spending time in that part of the garden, wandering among the flowers and taking pictures of the insects, and how visitors to the house have to walk past it on their way to the front door and remark on how beautiful it is.
Next the garden showed me the sunlight sparkling behind the clematis that climbs over the pergola.
And I remembered M and his father building that pergola years ago from timber that came from the woods on the farm where M grew up. The farm that his parents nurtured for fifty years, farming it organically long before it was fashionable to do so, from an ability to put an ear to the soil and hear how it wanted to be. The farm they left three years ago when old age crept close and they decided it was time to move on.
Next the garden showed me how the Bergamot flower had come into bloom while I was away chasing Emperors on someone else's land.
And I marvelled at the exotic nature of the blooms and remembered sowing the seeds carefully with a whispered prayer for their germination two spring's ago, and the disappointment I felt when nothing came up last summer.
Then he showed me deep red roses clustered in a pot on the patio.
And I remembered the person who gave them to me, how special she is to me, how long we have known one another and the things we have been through and shared that have brought us to now. And I remembered how sad and withered and small the blooms were last summer, because the rose had been overlooked in a too-small pot for too long. And how I moved them to a larger pot over the winter to give them space to grow and bloom.
Next he showed me simple sunlight through the wisteria leaves.
And I thought about the pigeons who are nesting deep within its protective arms, and the Children they had last year and those they will have this year, too.
And then he showed me another hollyhock, a different colour to the first but also newly out that day.
And I thought about how different all the colours are in nature, how simple, how beautiful, how perfect.
And then, finally, he showed me the tip of a Squirrel's tail investigating the grasses over the fence by the lake.
And that made me smile, because it reminded me of Teddy, who, whenever he sees a squirrel, becomes suddenly, utterly, completely and inexplicably convinced that he too can climb trees. It is a Sight To See, an Instant Cure For Melancholy.
And I realised that I am where I am meant to be and there is no need to go off chasing Other Things through Other Lands.